Crimson Hangs on to Edge Holy Cross

Normally, I don't care what the guys do on Sunday. Today, I'm telling them to go to church and thank God for the win." Harvard coach Joe Restic after Saturday's 14-13 win over Holy Cross

Not the most artistic of victories, perhaps, but a victory nonetheless. If the Crimson's opening day triumph over Columbia allowed Harvard to strut its stuff and dominate, this weekend's 14-13 squeaker against the Crusaders gave the gridders a chance to show they can clamp down under pressure.

While Restic feels lucky to escape a bizarre contest checkered with strange twists, mistakes and bad breaks, the Crimson's one-point victory indicates that this year's squad, its talent aside, knows how to win.

Consider punter Steve Flach's 40-yd. kick from the far reaches of the end zone to get Harvard out of trouble after two earlier snaps went over his head. Or split end Ron Cuccia, neutralized offensively thanks to superb coverage by Crusader defensive back Eric Oden, contributing a bone-crushing block on a 30-yd. screen pass to Jim Callinan and a crucial tackle on an interception--all 5 ft. 8 in., 155 lbs. of him.

They offer but two examples of gridders who came through Saturday in a game that could've been turned around on any given play. Offensive tackle Dave Anderson pounced on a Paul Connors fumble for the Crimson's first score, after a 71-yd., 12-play drive engineered by quarterback Brian Buckley, who gave further evidence of his mobility and strength with several acrobatic aerials. Callinan cracked the line 18 times for 93 yds., a personal best and impressive stats for a back whose injury troubles have prevented him from going full out this season.


Again, the Defense

In the end, the Crimson defense cemented the cliffhanger, with captain Chuck Durst sacking Holy Cross quarterback Dave Boisture for a 9-yd. loss on third down with less than two minutes remaining and the Crusaders on the Harvard 19.

The sack pushed the line of scrimmage back to the Harvard 28, taking the Crusaders out of placekicker Matt Michaud's field goal range--his subsequent 45-yd. attempt fell far short, dying at the 7-yd. line.

After the Crimson failed to make headway and Flach's 40-yarder, the Crusader QB Boisture's last gasp attempt ended in cornerback Pete Coppinger's arms with 22 seconds left.

Even with the many solid performances registered by the gridders, the final margin came only because of Michaud's flubbed extra point after Holy Cross' second touchdown, a controlled 88-yd., 17-play drive culminated by Mark Covington's 6-yd. camper. Michaud had hit on a Holy Cross record of 25 consecutive PATs, but Boisture fumbled the snap and the kick veered wide to the left.

The Crimson, though, had even more trouble on snaps. The Crusaders' first score resulted from a snap that sailed over Flach's head and was recovered on the 1-yd. line nine minutes into the second quarter.

Defensive back Mike Jacobs--who chipped in a first-quarter interception--had stickum on his hands and snapped the ball high over Flach. After Harvard's first possession in the second half, Jeff Lawrence's high snap resulted in Flach's punt being blocked and recovered at the Crimson goal line. But the gridders buckled down, tripping Crusader fullback Doug Pietrick for a one-yd. loss and then forcing a fumble which right tackle Tim Palmer recovered.

In the first half, the Holy Cross offense assumed a non-descript form--basically, it was three yards and a cloud of Covington, who ran 13 times in the half. Buckley, by contrast, directed the Crimson efficiently, feeding repeatedly to Callinan who tore through the line for big gains, and hitting halfback Tom Beatrice--who turned in his second stellar game in a row--four times for 82 yds., including a 38-yarder that set up the winning touchdown which the quarterback sneaked over from the one.

Purple Group

The purple-clad Crusaders regrouped at halftime, though, and gave Harvard and its dyspeptic fans all they could ask for. The bruising defense held the multiflex scoreless in the second half, with linebacker Curt Bletzer leading the assault.

But although Holy Cross carried the game in the last half, and although Restic's charges still have a lot of rough edges to smooth over before the Crimson goes marching into West Point next week to fight the Cadets, the victory belonged to Harvard, and that is the bottom line.

As Coppinger said yesterday, "We might've lost a game like this last year." The fact that they didn't bodes well for the rest of the season.

at Harvard Harvard  7  7  0  0--14 Holy Cross  0  6  7  0--13

H--Dave Anderson fumble recovery in end zone (Dave Cody kick) HC--Doug Pletrick 2 run (Matt Michaud kick) H--Brian Buckley 2 run (Cody kick) HC--Mark Covington 6 run (kick falled)   Harv  HC First downs  17  18 Rushes-yds.  43-139  42-116 Passing yds.  234  189 Return yards  --  -- Passes  17  17 Punts  7-29.3  4-25.8 Fumbles-lost  4-1  2-1 Penalties-yds.  5-58  6-50

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS Rushing Player (School)  Att.  Yds.  Avg  LG Calllnan (H)  18  93  5.2  14 Covington (HC)  23  75  3.3  10 Pietrick (HC)  7  20  2.9  10 Reks (HC)  3  19  6.3  9 Beatrice (H)  83  18  2.3  9 Scheper (H(  5  10  2.0  5 Buckley (H)  8  81  1.0  1

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS Passing   Comp.  Att.  Yds.  TD  Int Buckley (H)  17  26  234  0  1 Bolsture (HC)  15  25  150  0  1 Murphy (HC)  1  3  10  0  1 Pletrick (HC)  1  1  29  0  0

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS Receiving   No.  Yds.  TD Kelley (HC)  8  93  0 Reading (HC)  7  80  0 Beatrice (H)  5  95  0 Calllnan (H)  4  43  0 Scheper (H)  3  45  0 Covington(HC)  2  16  0